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Front Page » Top Stories » Barreiro Stadium Would Trigger Redevelopment Downtown

Barreiro Stadium Would Trigger Redevelopment Downtown

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Written by on January 4, 2007

By Dan Dolan
Building a $420 million baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins next door to the Stephen P. Clark Center could provide the spark that ignites massive redevelopment in the stagnant western section of downtown Miami, government officials said last week.

Downtown Development Authority members Neisen Kasdin and Bruno A. Barreiro say a stadium would trigger new investment in the Flagler Street central business district and in underdeveloped areas surrounding the proposed site on Third Street.

"Right now, there’s an explosion of activity on the eastern side of downtown Miami and very little happening on the west side," said Mr. Kasdin, head of the land-use practice at law firm Gunster Yoakley. "So a baseball stadium is important because it will act as a catalyst that draws investment and people to the western part of downtown."

Attracting people is key to west-side economic development, Mr. Barreiro said. Existing downtown shops, restaurants and businesses would convert some baseball fans into customers, Mr. Barreiro said. But new businesses would also spring up to service fans.

"The Marlins would play 82 home games in the new stadium," Mr. Barreiro said. "That means we have the potential of 40,000 new people coming downtown 82 days every year. It’s a win-win situation — and not just for Flagler Street. It will help the entire west side."

If the baseball stadium isn’t built on 9 acres of government-owned land next to the Clark county-administrative center, it may take years for development to spread from the east side to the rest of downtown, Mr. Kasdin said.

"So a downtown stadium would be really smart urban planning," Mr. Kasdin said. "One of the unique aspects of the project would be the benefits created by redevelopment on the west side — housing, commercial space and retail. It’s a matter of creating a critical mass that will make things happen."

A downtown stadium is in the talking stage. County officials expect Major League Baseball and the Marlins to present construction cost estimates and preliminary designs later this month.

Meanwhile, county officials are trying to persuade the Legislature to approve a special $60 million state tax subsidy considered the lynchpin to any stadium deal. Gov.-elect Charlie Crist has indicated he is open to considering state support for a stadium.

The county would use bonds and tourist taxes to pay for construction. The baseball team would lease the stadium from the government.